Well hello you lot… I hope you are all well and happy despite the crappy weather we are enduring right now.  I’ve been doing that thing I always seem to do and getting behind on my work, I never manage to get organised and it doesn’t matter how many to-do lists I have, or the whiteboards I have on my office wall stating what I’m doing and when down to the last-minute of each day.  Things come up, mixing desks go wrong, staff call in sick, people call and before you know it you’re a day behind.  Anyway, it doesn’t matter – it’s not like it’s a surprise to me really – I’ve been late all my life, why change now lol.  Well, with all that I have been meaning to blog for ages and finally here I am. We’ve had a mad couple of months and its crazy to think that it seems a blink of an eye ago I was rambling on about Christmas – scary huh?  It’s been a fun couple of weeks with some great bands. I had an awesome birthday weekend with ‘MAETLOAF’, it was so good and I even managed to remember it 🙂 (just), thank you to all of you that sent me cards and came down to share it with me, it was a brilliant night.   Also this weekend just passed we were lucky enough to present  ‘The Burning Crows’ EP launch party. This band will always hold a special place for me. I can honestly say that I remember these boys when they first walked into the pub, they must have been about 14 years old and were in a band and could they have a gig please? It has been an amazing experience for me to watch them grow into truly competent musicians as well as decent young men – I’m not going to harp on about that as I wouldn’t want to embarrass them (it’s ok boys i wont put any of the pics up from that first gig lol) but it definitely got me thinking about our younger clientel.

Way back when I was at school I can remember getting my options form and laying on the living room floor with my mum chatting about what to take. She asked me the million dollar question ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ there was only one answer – ‘A ROCK STAR’. Being the amazing woman who my mum is, she didn’t laugh, she just said that was fine and she would help me all she could, but I had to pick some subjects anyway as a backup so I chose every science I could with the hopes of someday becoming a Vet if my musical dreams didn’t work out.  I have to say, I may never have played Wembley but I have had a brilliant musical career and I wouldn’t change a single thing. It’s something I couldn’t have done without my mum’s love, support and encouragement. How lucky was I? Playing in bands from an early age was tough – in those days venues didn’t like children (because essentially that was exactly what I was) in them. I played my first gig at 14years old, and from that day on I was playing a minimum of three times a week.  I had to lie about my age to be allowed to play and it was always a little touch and go for the band whether we would get away with it or not.  As an adult, mum and I always said if we could help young people in music then we would, that opportunity would present itself in the end…  About eleven years ago, way before we moved in here, I worked as a residential social worker for a local company providing residential care for young people in crisis.  Without going into too much detail, these kids had been to hell and back and we were the last stop.  It was rewarding work albeit sometimes hard, thinking you can make a difference is definitely what keeps you going in such jobs.  When The Brickies was on the market, possibly going to be either chain bought or knocked down for the land it was a sharp blow to the local music scene.  Most of you know the story of how and why we ended up here so I won’t go into it again but mainly to open up the stage to everyone – irrelevant of age.  At the time venues we dropping like flies and it seemed the right thing to do. How was our local music scene ever going to flourish and give birth to new bands without nurturing our new talent?  Over the years, we have seen so many young people through our doors, starting on our stages from the age of as young as 11.  We like to think we have created a space for young people to come and express their creativity and musical ability, to learn and develop their musical and sometimes personal individuality – It is a place where parents now feel safe to drop off their kids and pick them up in a couple of hours.  I can understand why some parents would feel uneasy about it, I would feel the same over my own. Of course – yes we are a pub and that you can never take away but ‘The Brickies’ is so much more than that. We have music pumping around the foundations here and a commitment to everyone that comes in and enjoys themselves here that we will endeavour to make it a safe, happy environment. 

I don’t know how many of you guys knew Dalmaine Dewgarde – known in the area as Dal? Well he and I would chat on a regular basis and we always spoke about our young people here in Sprowston, and those that visit us on a regular basis whether to play or watch. He often said that he felt the young people of the local area were generally very good people, he respected them and they respected him. He was in his 80’s yet so in touch with our local youth, he was a total inspiration and together we made plans for helping young people get along in the local music scene.  Sadly he passed away a few weeks ago now, but we strive to continue what we set out to do.  I had a moment last week where I was visited by the carer of one of our regular younger visitors.  I actually thought I was in trouble for a moment, but as we sat down and started talking I realised that she was actually thanking me. I felt completely humble and embarrassed, I mean what exactly did I do?  It seems the young man she was responsible for had been living on the edge for sometime after a somewhat traumatic childhood. Obviously I can’t and wouldn’t want to go into details but it seems we gave him something positive to focus on. Now, just that one good story is worth 9 years of hard work, even without mentioning all the other amazing stuff… So why am I running on about this – I don’t know really, just airing my thoughts after chatting to some of our youngsters at the weekend and actually having a good giggle with them… I think a lot of Norwich’s young people get tarred with a really bad brush… sure there are some that really are trouble makers but if we all take the time to show them some respect, talk to them, laugh, joke and encourage them then why shouldn’t they give it back to us? I’m not just blowing the Brickies trumpet here – Dal made me realise that, more than he will ever know. If we just stop and take the time, they have so much to offer.  As far as the music scene goes, well there are some awesome venues doing things for young people out there – ‘Open’, ‘Access To Music’ and more. For now – we promise to keep promoting our local music scene, getting new bands in all the time, as well as your old favs. What can you do? well, encourage everyone you know to go and see live music – not just here but at every venue you can in Norwich, and there are some really good ones out there and it’s important that we keep them to keep our music scene strong and alive. Without your support they wont be able to pay the bills. We all know times are hard but pulling together is what makes it stronger. Go and see a band you’ve never heard of… I dare you!

That was very random and all over the place lol, I guess that’s what blogs are all about though right? opening your head lol.

Just very quickly tell you about this weekend as it is very exciting.  Friday night we have a date with The Stylotones, an awesome big ska/2tone band. If you like windin’ and grindin’ then don’t miss these guys – they are definitely one of the best in the region.  Saturday night is a personal favourite of mine ‘PURE FLOYD SHOW’ – yes, it does what it says on the tin. The best Floyd tribute in East Anglia…its a fiver to get in but we guarantee you wont be disappointed, they are truly amazing, even have the female backing singers too!

Right guys, enough blah blah blah for now…. Got to go and set up for Open Mic Night…why don’t you come down and have a go….

Have a great week

Cxx

Yes folks, I know it’s been so long since I blogged and I sincerely apologise to all those of you that like reading my random waffle but I have to get this one out there in the open before I go any further.  One of my lovely regulars brought us in a bag of biscuits and cakes today 🙂 – as I locked up and headed upstairs with my list of Sunday night jobs, I spied something familiar at the bottom of the bag – well it was a replica of something once familiar, I mean it vaguely looked like a ‘Wagon Wheel’ multipacket – it said ‘Wagon Wheel’ on it and naturally I figured they had moved with the times and updated said packaging as the years have passed. I mean seriously, the last time I was lucky enough to have a ‘Wagon Wheel’ is when my mum stuck one in my lunch box at school.  My God they were good, and is it just me or can you guys remember them being massive too?  I can remember one wagon wheel taking up a significant portion of my lunchbox.  Boy! if you got one of those in your box all the cool kids hovered round trying to swap it for their ‘Munch Bunch’ yoghurt… heh heh like I was ever gonna swap my michellen tyre of mallowness for that slop! Anyway long moan short – I was quite excited by my wagon wheel, despite how small it seemed. I put it down to the fact that I had become somewhat larger whilst the ‘Delicious mallow biscuit covered with a chocolate flavoured coating’ had remained the same size. I am however, not convinced.  I made myself a huge mug of tea and sat down in my office to upload and mix the weekend’s photos and videos.  I carefully unwrapped my ‘Wagon Wheel’ to discover it was actually not even a bicycle tyre. It was thin, not overly mallowy and the cardboard biscuit thingy was covered in a coating that promised to be chocolatey but to be honest my dogs chocolate bones are more appetising.  I cannot describe the disappointment I felt – It’s almost like finding out that curly wurlies aren’t actually curly and you really can’t eat two Aeros instead of one because of all the air in them make them less fattening!  Ok, I know I’m blowing it a little out of proportion here but for goodness sakes – I actually dumped the ‘imposter’ and dunked a bourbon biscuit in my tea! Bourbons never pretend to be anything else.  For once, even Tilly (my dog) didn’t seem too interested in begging for said ‘Wagon Wheel’ – I guess that says it all!

Anyway – enough said. It’s been five weeks since Christmas and doesn’t it seem so far away now?  Time gets stuck here and before you know it it’s the next day, next week, next month and oh my word we’ve been here nine years in April. How did that happen!? I only blinked and sat down for a cuppa. Well,in the last month or so I have been fiddling about with video cameras. We managed to install four video cameras at various positions in the band room. If you’ve been in you would have seen it. All videos run into a vision mixer and then it is displayed on the big screen and two other screens throughout the venue.  It means wherever you stand you will be able to watch the band.  The double whammy for bands is that we have the facility to record whatever we mix and can them provide them with a DVD of their gig at the end.  If you head over to our youtube channel you can watch some snippets that we have recorded over the last couple of weeks.  I’m still learning as I go with the system, it’s taken a little while to master getting the right audio levels out of the desk, it’s almost like you have to mix the live sound and the output levels to the hard disk recorder all the same time, as well as fading the video channels. I could do with a few more pairs of hands lol.  We’re getting there now though.  The idea for this came from me approaching a video production company just before Christmas about recording my own band. I was quoted almost £1000 plus vat. We thought that was crazy, how are bands ever going to be able to promote themselves when everything being so expensive? Anyway, we bought the equipment and figured that if we charged bands a minimal fee of £50, it covers our equipment costs and they could walk away with a half decent DVD for a tenner each.  Already bands have been jumping at the chance to have a recording of their gigs.  It’s also a great way for us to promote what’s coming up – it gives you all a chance to see and hear what a band is like before deciding what to do with your weekend…   Our open mic nights are slightly different. All performers play for free so we give them a DVD of their set for free too. It is a great resource for all musicians to use to promote themselves and try out new material, work on their performance.  I recorded my New Years Eve gig, it was one of the first we did and I personally have found it very useful to watch, we are all our own worst critics lol.  Next gig – maybe not so much brandy heh heh.

Speaking of gigs… this week we’ve got some brilliant stuff happening.  Melodic trio ‘Zoom Club’ are here on Thursday, and then one of my favs ‘POUT AT THE DEVIL’ bring us some 80’s glam on Friday night.  Saturday night is very exciting for me as I get to play, this will be ‘PURE PASSION’s first gig with their new singer so it’s all very exciting. We are expecting to be extremely busy so make sure you are in early if you’re coming!

Right folks, I still have to update the website so I had better get a shift on as I’m getting a little sleepy now… well it is 4.26am – I reckon that’s pretty normal.

Goodnight people and don’t forget to watch out for Wagon Wheel imposters….they may be lurking somewhere near you!

Cxx

It’s 9.25am the day before Christmas Eve and I’m about to open my brain so brace yourselves folks – anything could happen here….  ((((shake))))) 

I’ve been trying to find 5 minutes to write a Christmas blog for the last couple of weeks but that kinda didn’t happen, things here have been a tad hectic to say the least – I’m not complaining though, I’d rather be hectic than bored.  I don’t know about you guys but I keep waiting to be hit by that Christmassy feeling, It hasn’t happened yet, even after what must be at least 50 plays of ‘Fairytale of New York’ on the Jukebox this week,  two Carol services, one of which I sang in the choir and still all the tinsel in the world and fake snow hasn’t assisted in my Chritmassy mood.  It has definitely crept up on me this year, even though I have actually finished my Christmas shopping for once and I’m not going to find myself rushing around the city on Christmas Eve looking for a forgotten present for a distant relation. I can certainly breathe a bit about that…  Maybe Christmas Eve will be the kick-start of my festive feelings – we have the awesome GLAMTASTICS on, they make you feel good any time of year so I reckon I’m in with a good chance here. Don’t get me wrong – it’s not that I haven’t been trying,  Christmas has always been my favourite time of year right from when I was a kid – I have my amazing family to thank for that one, they always made sure it was a magical time. Just a brief note about Christmas Eve – if you are planning on coming out to spend the evening with us 1: That’s brilliant    2: Book your taxi home now, don’t leave it til the last-minute as experience taught us – you won’t get one!      3: wear a santa hat or something Christmassy ( baubles dangling from ears / tinsel around your person, that sort of thing) anything to help lift the Christmas spirit for the evening (and I’m not talking about the top shelf here!)   4: Make sure you get in Early as it’s going to be mad and last thing you want to do tomorrow is have to queue to get in..  ( see I even went Christmassy colours there for effect!)

Christmas Day here is always good fun, it’s a day where we open just for a couple of hours (12pm – 3pm) and it always surprises us how many of you are out and about, by all means pop in and have a mince pie with us there will be plenty to go around as well as free tunes of a festive nature on the ole jukey.  Me and Mum will be on the bar and hopefully the festive feeling will be right there along with us…  (pausing to make coffee, hang on….AFK)   – right! back now …  Yes Christmas day – we’ll provide the Sausage Rolls, Mince Pies, chocolates, cheesey tunes come along and join us in our Christmasivities!

Boxing Day is the most hilarious night of the year down here at The Brickmakers! why? I hear you cry….. well it’s quite simple really.  POT LUCK KARAOKE – that’s why!!  Yes folks it’s karaoke but with one hell of a difference. We open our doors at 7pm and we kick off at 8pm…everybody gets involved, even me, Mum and all our staff.   You don’t have to be able to sing, but you do need to be game for a laugh!   Write your name down and pull a mystery song out of the hat! you wont know what your song is until you are on stage with that microphone in your hand.  Songs are picked at random and are sealed by the independent adjudicator and is the only one who knows where the money is…. er…hold on wrong game! ( DOH! )  now what was I saying…. (hang on, need coffee….) …. ahhhhhhh better now, ok yes so Pot Luck Karaoke – does what it says on the tin, your song is totally pot luck. Don’t worry though, there are only songs that you will be sure to know, for instance Mum went first last year and got Bohemian Rhapsody which started the night off nicely (well, sort of – in places lol) I think I may have got YMCA at some point.  The main thing is, that it’s a whole lot of fun and a surefire way to either escape the Christmas madness or embrace it wholeheartedly!  We’re all taking part so come down and join in the fun and frolicking, or just come and watch either way there is going to be many laughs!

A random off on a tangent paragraph…. Some of you who have been in over the last couple of weeks may have noticed our new video system, its been four years in the planning and have taken us a while to save up to buy the equipment, luckily I have managed to pick quite a lot of it up second-hand – thank goodness for the internet!  So we now have a four-way video mixing system with which we can broadcast the band throughout the whole venue on our screens, the idea is to be able to enjoy the gig, wherever you may be standing in the pub.  It’s doesn’t end there however, we can now provide bands an instant recording of their gig performance on DVD at the end of the night to take away. It’s a brilliant resource available to bands as getting good quality promo videos done costs a fortune.  The plan was always to help bands promote themselves in the cheapest way possible, we can now provide a stage on which to perform, audio recording, video and photographic production all under one roof.  It’s pretty much all a band needs for self marketing and promotion.   The recordings themselves are surprisingly good quality for analogue cameras (If there is enough demand for it, we will look into going digital at a later date, obviously that is soooo much more expensive to install) I’m still getting to know the equipment and learning as I go, so production techniques will hopefully improve – It obviously poses the question – didn’t I already have enough knobs to fiddle with?? my answer to that is, there can never be too many! however another set of hands would come in handy (lol) what do you reckon Santa?  come on –  pull that one out of yer sack!! heheheh heheheh!!

Right, we have, Open Mic Night (Wed) and  bands on as normal between Christmas and New Year and then obviously on New Years Eve we have our NYE Bash celebrations.  It’s not even Christmas yet and tickets are running into their last 50. We totally expect to be sold out by the time New Year’s Eve arrives so if you were planning to share it with us and haven’t yet got your tickets then please, we urge you to get them asap, so many people left it to the last-minute last year only to be told we were sold out and they had to find somewhere else to party the New Year in!  This year is particularly special as Pure Passion will be saying a sad goodbye to Linzi (their long term singer) who is leaving after her final gig on NYE.  PP always guarantee a good show but this one is destined to be that little bit more rockin! – don’t panic PP fans, after an extensive search to middle earth and beyond they have auditioned 15 prospective Linzis and the band have found a new singer. Her name is Tara and you will all be meeting her in the New Year. Excellent local rockers ‘Black River Falls’ are also on the bill tonight, with an amazing Janis Joplin style vocalist, they are sure to impress! There is no better way than to wave goodbye to 2011 than here with us. So I repeat just once more – get your tickets NOW! or be very dissapointed!

A short note – (lol I AM only 5′ 2″)   Mum, Em and I would like to just say a massive thank you to all our amazing staff who quite frankly work their butts off throughout the year, we appreciate all you do guys, you’re amazing!  Also thanks to our loyal customers, music lovers, suppliers and of course those that are the fuel in the Brickies engine – THE BANDS! It’s all about you guys! and without you Brickies life would be pretty pointless. We wish you all,  an amazing Christmas full of love and laughter and a very promising and Happy New Year, wherever you may celebrate it!

Right, that’s probably enough random ramblings from me, my next blog will be written in 2012 – how strange is that?!?!

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a Good Night…. er…. well  have a good day anyway!

Cxxxx

 

Let’s face it – things are never normal around here. The word ‘Normal’ can adapt itself to anyone and anything, everyone’s version of it is different, it’s a crafty little word. My version of normal consists of locking up around 2am, heading to my Rapunzel tower and catching up on web updates and paperwork til about 4am. Then obviously catch a few Z’s until opening up in the morning and starting the pub day all over again!  My normal does not consist of being rudely awoken at 7am after a measly 2 and a half hours of cosy sleep by the piano movers telling me they’ve brought the piano back!  really? at 7am in the morning – *breathes* ‘Calm and Relaxed’ so this morning there I was in my Pj’s, I was so asleep I actually pulled my jeans and jumper over the top of them to look bright and breezy. I practiced being nice and un-grumpy as I unlocked the pub to let them in.  It almost worked until one of the removal guys said ‘Sorry did we get you up?’ I held in my happy response as much as I could, smiled sweetly and said it was ok and I just had a very late night.  Apparently we were informed that delivery would be between 7am and 7.30pm, surely that actually means on average ‘we’ll see you at lunch time?’ clearly not. It would have been much more convenient at the other end of the delivery window…. blimey listen to me; I really am off on one lol. Thats enough of that!

There’s been so much to do this last week, with the building work on the ceiling fading away as a distant memory now we turn and face the festive season.  I’d like to say I’m ready, prepared and gonna hit it head on, but you know me well enough by now I hope to know that I have been running around like a headless chicken, trying to get newletters finished and in to the printers, design and print posters, get adverts ready and somewhere in the midst of all that go Christmas Shopping, order the turkey and plan what little time we do have to spend with families.   Things haven’t exactly gone without cock-ups, for instance last week I spent a couple of days designing the advert to send off to Outline Magazine,  also designed posters advertising Christmas and New Year events. After this was done and we had sent off listings to the paper I received a call cancelling our Christmas Eve show.  Talk about Sods Law. Firstly we had to come up with another band to play Christmas Eve, now-normally finding a band quickly isn’t too hard as there are many bands on our waiting list for gigs. However, this wasn’t just any gig – It’s Christmas Eve we are talking about.  The band needed to be something that everyone will enjoy. We came up with the perfect band ‘THE GLAMTASTICS’.  They are very glam, sparkly and fun – perfect for the occasion and luckily for us, they were free and willing!  The next job wasn’t going to be as quick or easy.  Em had to try to retract the listings and change them, then send them off again. Whilst she was doing that, I was redesigning the adverts and posters, contacting the media and asking them to ignore the last ad and please use the new one if it’s not too late.  Fingers crossed we think made the deadlines…  So we all breathed a sigh of relief!  Now, Christmas ads are done, the newsletter is complete, websites and mobile sites are updated to the end of the year and all that’s left is to enjoy it…. well almost…

You see the thing with the Christmas period is that everything and everyone shuts down, that includes printers & newspapers that run on skeleton staff. So that means that now we are ready for Christmas, we need to look beyond it. Bottom line is, I need to design the newsletter and adverts for january in the next couple of weeks to ensure I make the January deadlines.  it’s mad, it’s the virtual Forth Bridge! I finish one and start again 🙂

On the home front, Em is still struggling with her ankle bless her, it’s been 6weeks since she tripped over an atomic particle and fractured her ankle (It’s easily done and no laughing matter, I once broke mine by tripping over a blade of grass that someone had rudely put in my path!) She went back to the hospital and they discovered that not only had she done the former, she had also ripped tendons and torn the muscle between her calf and Achilles tendon!  In short, that means another 6weeks in the brace, crutches and generally taking it easy.  Bless her! she’s getting so frustrated, This place isn’t just work – it’s life for us, and not being able to do what you do is enough to drive you nuts. However we are keeping her busy in the office – everything else still works  lol.  With a little bit of luck and lots of physio she’ll be back behind the bar in the new year!  cause you’re going to rest it aren’t you Em??? 

On a completely different note, don’t know if you’ve noticed but The band room looks amazing, and after it being open for a couple of weeks and chatting extensively to bands and customers alike, it seems that everyone is agreed that the sound in there is better than ever before.  From a sound engineers point of view, I have to agree.  It’s always produced an impressive sound but it seems to now be so much warmer and rich. Thank goodness it changed for the better.  We did hold our breath for a while there when they stuck up those tiles…….again…… and again…. lol.  Seriously though, we are very pleased with it.  We have more new plans springing into action soon but I’ll keep quiet about them at the moment, can’t tell you it all at once – we don’t want to spoil the surprise!

Right, I’m in danger of rambling on much more than I already have so I’m going to leave you all to enjoy your day and if the week pans out the way I hope it will, I will be back in a couple of days with some more brain waffle!

Happy Tuesday 🙂

Cxx

THE STYLOTONES GIG @ THE BRICKIES

By now you should all have gathered that I most definitely am not a morning person, that word does just not sit happily in my vocabulary. So when I received the message that the builders wanted to get in at 7am not 8am you can only imagine the inner groan I was voicing. However, having made it to bed at 3.30am the night before I still managed to crawl out of my bed at 6.50am, put the kettle on and get the coffee brewing and unlocked the pub in anticipation of the builders. Half an hour passed, I nudged myself awake by doing some maintainance on the websites and drank more coffee. An hour passed and still no builders, I was starting to feel extremely grumpy…I mean at the best of times I am more than aware I can come across as grumpy (I’m not I promise :)) but now I was really grumpy. At 8.15am the builders strolled through the door bright and breezy, no apologies just demands for the ‘kettle to be put on luv’ there are no prizes for guessing my reaction.  yes, I calmly told them the kettle had been put on at 7am when I was told they would actually arrive.  The main man ‘Ray’ announced he was only joking when her told Kat that they were coming at 7am. Made me rite laugh that did!!!

Anyway, that aside the boys got on and started with the fiasco that has been the ceiling!  Things had been going fine until they started putting up the ceiling tiles.  They had bought a job lot of self adhesive cork tiles, which in fairness is what used to be up on the old ceiling.  The stuck them up and everything was going great, except some of them started to fall down, they stuck them back up and then the painters arrived to put the first coat of paint on the tiles.  By the morning, the tiles had expanded and bubbled, some had fallen and others were hanging on by a miracle.  Turns out the tiles were not supposed to be stuck straight onto fresh plaster, well that’s what the instructions on the paint said!  As you can imagine this caused much babble between the boys and their bosses about whose fault it was that nobody read the instructions. It didn’t matter really did it?  we needed those tiles up and we needed them up now! We were already 2 days behind.  Anyway – after having a chat with the project manager – who wanted to take them all off and put a new batch up we put our faith in them and that’s what they did. The lads spent most of the afternoon scraping off the remaining ceiling tiles and began to then put new ones up using a strong adhesive. A handful of tiles in,  the site manager  stopped and said he wasn’t prepared to stick the rest of the tiles up as they wouldn’t be up there for five minutes before they fell down again. SO we had another meeting!  This time, the cork tiles were boycotted and we decided on some very posh acoustic tiles, which were thicker, and in all fairness more likely to have the desired effect on acoustic insulation.  The tiles were bought and the lads stuck them up and to be sure, they screwed them in too. They then painted the first coat on the ceiling and walls.  The painters arrived at half three to put on the second coat –

Meanwhile –

Tracey and I brought all the lighting and trussing up from storage and both Em and I began the long disgusting process of cleaning it all. When it was shining and sparkly, the lads helped us to get the truss back on the walls. This is where we are at right now. Trussing is up and ready for lights, there is on more piece of truss to go up but it hasn’t been delivered yet – we had to have a new bit ordered as the asbestos boys took away our scaffold lighting rig so currently there is no front of stage lighting rig.  I have to say I was a little shocked at the cost of a 7m piece of truss, with all the fixings it’s topping almost £700! scary stuff.   So, tomorrow after they finish the painting it’s going to be countdown time. We will have to pull an all-nighter to get it done but I reckon we’ll make it.  we’ve got to get the top cabs flown, the  bass speakers in, the amps & mixing desk installed, the multicore, monitors and hen the lights wired up and everything has to be tested and tested again.  When all that is done it’s the clean up time – the wooden floor is a state and will need several coats of polish with the buffer. There’s so much to think about, I’m trying not to think about any of it lol.  Right now, I’m having a coffee break and updating you all and then I’m off to help clean up a bit and do some touch up painting.

We are so close now and the imminent panic is looming!   It will all be alright on the night…..right?

Expect an update at end of play on Friday!  For now, check out the latest photos…

Thanks all for now…..

Cxx

 

Yes… really!

Well we are nearly at the two-week mark and I have to say I’m starting to feel very tired out. Early mornings are great if you coincide them with early nights. However things are on the move and finally it seems we are getting somewhere. After the Asbestos guys finished up on Sunday of last week we went in and had a look around, it was so strange to see the roof from the dance floor. We were amazed to find that the six panels on the ceiling that we had always believed to be bits of wood were actually cast Iron radiators bolted to the joists. safety bolted I hasten to add, these babies weren’t going anywhere.  These radiators have been the cause of much conversation over the last few days, I mean who in their right mind put’s cast Iron rads in ceilings, there was no room above it only attic, hot air rises….so essentially they were at one time just heating attic space – very random indeed!

We then hit a bit of a brick wall as the contractors wanted to leave them up there and plaster board around them, obviously to us this seemed a bit pointless, specially as they weren’t and hadn’t been connected to the water system for many years. I think it came down to what they had quoted for in the job,  the risk assessments and paperwork involved in a job such as removing these Iron Rads was immense and it wouldn’t be worth their time. Understandably so, however on the flip side, we felt it was silly spending all that money on a new ceiling to have old bits of it still stuck up there.  So we set about finding another contractor to come in and do it, we did (Thanks to JG Mills Pumbing & Heating for coming in at such late notice) and they were removed. It wasn’t an easy job though –  even after all the bolts were removed they remained up there, it look four blokes with crowbars and lump hammers to get them off and also to carry them. But they did a blinding job and they were disposed of.  It made such a difference to the room, it made it feel much more spacey. 

 When the contractors removed the coving, they knocked quite a lot of plaster off around the stage area. Em, Mum and I had a good look at it and over much tea and biscuits decided that it would be a good idea to strip the old paper off that was on the stage walls and get it reskimmed.  They were the only three walls left in the pub that hadn’t had a fresh skim of plaster on it and I have,  on many occasion sat at my soundesk detesting the gross wallpaper that dons those walls.  after having a quick chat with the plaster boys we agreed that if we removed all traces of paper,  they would accidentally skim it as they did the ceiling. The deal was done and we began removing the paper.  Oh what had we done!!!??  Two layers of black gloss on top of a layer of Anaglypta under which was at least another two layers of paint on that wonderful stuff that is wood chip paper. God if I could only get my hands on the B****** that invented that God awful stuff,  I would make him suffer the pain of removing it!  

So…I was happily scraping away, Em was scraping beside me. We were chatting away when all of a sudden she just dropped to the ground beside me shouting out in pain.  She was screaming in agony that she thought she had broken her ankle… she had stepped slighty wrong on a bit of broken plaster as she stepped off the stage.   We had plenty of hands on deck to help, Tony, the air conditioning guy was on site measuring up for our new units, being a first aider he came over to help – Mum came in with cold a cold compress which we ended up using to mop Em’s head as she was feeling extremely faint.  She looked to me like she fell awkwardly, and although she was adamant that the only thing injured was her ankle – we were very reluctant to move her. So we didn’t waste any time calling for an ambulance.  We kept her talking, trying to keep her calm whilst we waited and when the paramedics arrived they came armed with gold dust in a canister – Gas&Air!  With a bit of persuasion we managed to get Em to take it, this enabled enough pain relief for the paramedics to get her onto the stretcher and into the ambulance – not without the hilarity that was Emma on Gas&air though! Totally Brilliant, we should have sold tickets! I have a wonderful video that I,  as her best friend felt it was my duty to take (LOL) but It wouldn’t be fair or appropriate to put it up on here – the language is not really acceptable for public viewing, it will be saved for special occasions and moments of possible blackmail heh heh.  In all seriousness, we were very worried for her, I went along with her to the hospital while Mum and the awesome Nigel continued to strip the paper. Obviously this was carefully planned between Emma and myself so we wouldn’t have to strip that bloody awful wallpaper – lol.  Not really obviously – no one plans to go through pain like that on purpose.  After many hours wait and x-rays they sent us home only to return in the morning to see an Orthapedic Consultant at the fracture clinic.  So, Emma safely resting at home, I came back to continue with the scraping. It took the best part of the day and night to get that stuff off, but we did it.  Thanks to Nigel and Tracey for helping us out with that – you guys rock! 

The next day I dragged Emma back to the N&N fracture clinic, she was sure it was a sprain – I wasn’t so convinced. The Orthapedic Consultant showed us her x-rays, confirmed she had fractured her ankle, also chipped it and also torn the ligaments DOH! so they strapped her up in a Leg Brace thing that makes her look like a transformer hybrid! ‘OPTIMUS EM’!  lol.  She’s got to be very careful for a few weeks and she will remain suitably braced for 5 weeks. I fear we may have a few moments of boredom and frustration on the horizon. Don’t worry Em, I’ll make sure I bring youre homework to you 🙂

Anyway, wallpaper off, rads off, there was nothing in the way now – the boys had a blank canvas to get the plaster board up and that’s what they’ve done. Today all the plaster board is up and they are currently skimming the ceiling.  Finally it feels like things are going in the right direction. YAY!! We now have to leave the doors open during the day to get some good airflow blowing through to dry the plaster… it’s getting there peeps…not long now – we’re over half way.  Check out the photos from this last week, they are quite dusty but you can see it’s shaping up.

I’ll keep you all posted and we will recap next week.

Have a great weekend folks..

Cxx

PS: Just in case you were wondering – gigs are going ahead as stated here this weekend –  Classic Rockers ‘WHITE HEAT’  are on stage tonight with those talented young funkers ‘Mucked Up Funkies’ then tomorrow we have local favs ‘RAW EDGE’. Gigs are taking place in the B2 venue, but will be open into the main pub. It’s a different feel but for now it’s getting us by while the work continues. Only another week and we’ll be nearly there :o). Hope to see you all this weekend.   🙂

PPS:   Customers / Bands / Staff / Everyone has taken it upon themselves to sign the partition board that builders have erected between the pub and band room. (see pics)  please feel free to come and sign in yourself or even get artistic with it as Keith did. It’s only there for another few days so feel free to come and scribble!!

TTFN!

well….?  It certainly looks like that! lol. Let me rewind a little bit and explain – be prepared – I am very sleepy right now so I take no responsibiliy for awfal speling! heh heh 

Please right click here and open this in a new tab before reading on…..  Brickies ceiling theme tune   Be patient – it’s worth it!

Right, you may or may not know, a couple of weeks ago after a mad, busy Saturday night safely tucked up dreaming a blissful sleep only to be awoken more like shocked awake by a massive crash downstairs followed by the nastiness that is my burglar alarm. I have an external sounder in my flat so believe me, when that bugger goes off so does my heart.  After going through all the normal checks one does when ones burglar alarm goes off, you know – running around panicking, half asleep in pj’s, dogs going mental etc, we calmly checked the 26 cameras that surround the inside and outside of the building. When we got to the cameras in the band room all we could see was a mass of dusty white clouds.  Obviously the ceiling plaster had collapsed and we were watching the aftermath.  We came down and had a look. God what a mess – the plaster moulding on all ceiling above the sound-desk area had completely collapsed.  The plaster was seriously old so it wasn’t puny stuff, it was about 2.5 inches thick and heavy as hell.  As it fell it look the wall lights with it and glass was shattered across the length of the dance floor.  We cleared up what we could and grabbed a couple of hours kip.  The next morning was a muddle of cleaning, trying to find staff to come and cover so we could continue cleaning and then as it was Sunday, moving the Lee Vasey Band into B2, and shutting off the Brickmakers Band room area.  We just had to muddle through that day, and it went surprisingly well.  There wasn’t anything we could do about the roof until Monday.  So Monday came and with it a whole heap of problems trying to find someone to come and fix the roof.  It was a nightmare, as it was the end of the summer holidays all the major building contractors were finishing off their contracts in the schools and every phone call was the same, no-one was available until the school term resumed.  Luckily, thanks to our insurance broker, we managed to get a building contractor in just to provide a temporary repair, it wasn’t ideal but it was good enough and more importantly safe enough for us to then open up the band room again.  However, it wasn’t quite that simple. The plaster dust had covered all our PA amps and equipment and the cooling systems. We had to open each one up and clean it out with a Hoover, which was easier said than done – they don’t seem to make these things Dyson compatible… anyway it took Em and I the best part of the day to clean the amps and get the system up and running in a suitable condition to run the room. Luckily the sound desk had been covered up and put to bed the night before so the plaster didn’t reach the vital parts of it –  so thank you Clive for saving the desk!!  So that all sorted we were back in business and the bands were happy.

but…..

We werent feeling very sure though, what was to stop the rest of the ceiling falling? Now it had happened we were worried, we count our lucky stars that it happened overnight and nobody was hurt. We didn’t want to take any more chances so we contacted our Pub Co and made plans to get the rest of the ceiling fixed.  Again – nothing is ever simple is it?  They couldn’t ‘just fix’ the ceiling as on the other side of one part of it sat a whole load of nasty Asbestos, it wouldn’t have been safe to pull the other bit down. So after several meetings with our Pub Co and builders and Asbestos experts we all agreed that we needed to go the whole hog. Pull down the existing ceiling, dispose of the Asbestos and install a brand new ceiling. In theory it sounded smooth and perfect. In practice – we have had to shut the band room off whilst they carry out said works. Obviously when dealing with Asbestos we don’t want to take any chances so we have the proper guys in doing it, the HSE have been notified and all the regulations are being adhered to. We have decontamination units on site,  more safe-suits than you can shake a stick at and I’m sure we have a small family of Extra-Terrestrials hidden in the back behind all that polythene insisting that while they work they must remember to ‘beeeee gooooood!’   In all seriousness though, there wasn’t really any way around it, the room had to be shut and we needed to shift things about a bit.

These days no business can afford to shut its doors for a couple of weeks whilst such work is undertaken. We are lucky in the sense that we have B2, however it meant we had to reschedule many gigs for bands booked into B2 for the next couple of weeks. I have to say though,  all of them have been extremely gracious and very helpful. With their understanding we have been able to move all of our gigs from the Brickmakers stage into the B2 venue for the next two weeks. The Wednesday acoustic nights will continue in the main bar area and where possible we will be also having some extra acoustic acts in the main bar area.  We want to maintain our musical offerings to you as much as we can and we endeavour to keep disruption to a minimum. Were doing ok so far, it’s a little weird but we’ll get through it and let’s face it – it’s only another two weeks and normal service will be resumed and we will all be rocking under a brand spanking new ceiling. Awesome!!   As always, thank you all for your kind support and understanding at this time, not long now folks 🙂  

WARNING!!!!!  If you see me looking a little frayed at the edges / red in the face / looking snotty and grumpy / standing in the corner crying…   – please forgive me and just ignore me!  I’ve been up at the crack of dawn with the builders every day since they started and by the end of the next two weeks I’m likely to fall off my conscious platform…  just prod me awake as you pass or wave a large coffee under my nose!  Early mornings are great combined with early nights. We all know that isn’t an option in this job…. so I apologise now for sleep related Charleyisms!

And on that note…. I’m gonna shut up and try to get into bed before 2am, I have to be up at 8am to let the lads in again.  Check out the photos – there’s more to come.

Thanks again peeps…

Cxx

PS: The new newsletter is online if you fancy reading it and planning your weekend!

www.thebrickmakers.com

A couple of months ago we received a letter from ‘The Publican’s Morning Advertiser’, the licensed trade magazine saying that we had won an award for ‘Best Live Music Pub’ and ‘Best Entertainment Pub’ in East Anglia. We were so chuffed to have won this award. There are several good music pubs in the East Anglian region and to be considered one of the best was an honour.  We were invited to the London Hilton Hotel, Park Lane last week for the award ceremony and announcements of the National Winners. We have been lucky enough to win the National award in 2007 and now in 2011 being up against some music pubs of a very high standard we didn’t expect to have a chance. However, we took the opportunity to get our posh frocks out and have a good night out. Mum, Em, Tracey and Myself got dressed up to the nines and hit the Hilton. It’s a very prestigious event with many trade sponsors providing free drinks to sample from Champagne through to real ale. As you can imagine, we took full advantage of the free bar. We then sat down and had a three course meal before our host, comedian and Impressionist –  ‘Rory Bremner’ began to announce the award winners. Our category was announced and we all cheered happily when we saw our faces appear on the screen. When we heard ‘and the winner is….. The Brickmakers’, for what seemed like forever we seemed to stare at each other in complete shock. Seconds later we were all shouting and cheering as we went up onto the stage and were presented with our award from ‘Rory Bremner’. The rest of the night was an even bigger party. More champagne and many phone calls to a very excited pub back home.  After the event, we carefully hung up our frocks, stuck our civvies back on and then headed for home. We finally arrived back home about 3am and we walked straight in to another party. Our wonderful staff team and a handful of dedicated regulars had sat patiently waiting for us to return to celebrate  our win with us. Needless to say we were covered in party poppers, silly string and expected to party until the earlier early hours.  The next few days were full of interviews, newspaper reviews and a lot of buzzing and excitement in the pub.  So what does it actually mean to us?  Well it names ‘The Brickmakers’ as‘The Best Music Pub in the UK’. That in itself is one hell of an achievement, but it means a lot more than that.  The Brickies has always been about the music, its lifeblood is the bands, the customers and staff that make it what it is.  ‘The Brickies’ isn’t just a building – it’s a community, a large group of like-minded people who have a common love of music and sharing it with each other. That is what this award is about, it’s all for you guys as YOU ARE THE BRICKIES!  Together we totally rock!  Needless to say we couldnt’ do it without you all and we are ever grateful for your love and support.  For now, the award is up taking pride of place and we look forward to another busy winter/Christmas period with you all – I know, “shut up Charley”!  My radio kindly reminded me this morning, it’s not actually that far away now – better start saving up some pennies.

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As for this month…. well it’s certainly jam-packed as always, the highlight as always in October is the Halloween weekend.  We don’t seem to require much of an excuse here to get out the fancy dress gear so there is no reason this will be any different.  We will be spookifying the pub for the whole weekend so it looks very ghoulish.We start the party on Friday 28th Oct with ‘TENDAHOOKS’, then get scarier still on Saturday 29th Oct with the awesome ‘OZZIE’ (Ozzy Osbourne Tribute) then for something totally different Sunday 30th Oct sees us entering into our ‘Creepy Karaoke’ phase of ‘Halloween’. You’re guaranteed to hear it all from the ‘Monster Mash’ to ‘Thriller’. We have our regular sessions night on the actual  ‘All Hallows Eve’ (Mon 31st Oct) and we will be showing various spooky movies over the course of the weekend so make sure you get spooky with us! As always, all those that make the effort to dress up with us will be rewarded with a very special Halloween poison!  Nearer the time, we will also be revealing the results of our recent Paranormal Investigation with The NPIG team. (Norfolk Paranormal Investigations Group) we have ghostly tales and recordings to share with you so watch this space on that one!

On a completely different note, most of you will remember our ceiling problems last month – well we had it temporarily patched up whilst we waited for the Brewery, Surveyors and Contractors to decide what they wanted us to do with it. After much discussion we are going to have a new ceiling put in. We are not sure when and how long this will take but we can assure you, it will remain business as usual at ‘The Brickies’, just bear with us while we get it sorted out. Hopefully it wont take too long and we’ll have a nice brand new ceiling.

Don’t forget peeps, it might be getting chilly out but this weekend is hot! We have the awesome ‘Storm Shadow’ here for the first time on Thursday if you fancy a little midweek rock. Then it gets very party orientated on Friday when ‘FIREWIRE’ return to our stage with their own vibrant laser show – Raybans optional! Saturday is pretty cool too this week and a definite must for all you ACDC fans.  ‘WHOLE LOTTA DC’ will be on stage from 9.30pm with a massive set with all the classics from both ACDC eras! A great night of music for just a fiver! 

Righty oooooo, I’ve just finished my newsletter for October, it’s about 2.45am and I should really get my butt to bed, mind you I’ve drunk that much coffee tonight I think sleep might be a little much to ask but what the hell – I’ll give it a damn good go.

Hope to see you all over the weekend!

Cxx

 

Well I’m just about feeling human again. To say this last bank holiday weekend has been a tad hectic is a bit of an understatement.  Most of Sunday was spent putting up Marquees, bouncy castles, gazebos, setting up the outside fridges and stages ready for our annual BRICKFEST event.  Always,  24 hours before it starts we have a momentary panic…. what if it rains? what if the bands don’t turn up? what if no-one comes? it’s quite a normal part of the set-up now but as always it was unnecessary. Well almost….  After Karaoke on Saturday night we began to set up both the B2 stage and the Brickies stage, two drum kits, four guitar amps/cabs and two bass amps. Once the equipment was in place I set up all the mics and began cabling to the multicore on stage. It was getting on for 4am by the time I placed the last piece of gaffer. I crawled into my bed for a few measly hours and set my alarm for a short sharp wake up at 9am. I exercised my right to snooze and actually made it up about 9.12am, made coffee and headed out into the garden with the dogs.  I needed to set up the PA outside for the acoustic tent – the only problem was we didn’t as yet have an acoustic tent. So whilst waiting for the tent man to arrive I had more coffee and line checked the Brickies stage, we were running 18 channels to make sure I had enough mics available. All but 1 out of the 18 worked. I quickly changed over the cable, tested it and headed back to the kettle. In the mean time Dillup, the BBQ chef arrived and began setting up the food tent.  I remember checking my watch getting on for 10.30am and still the tent man was nowhere to be seen.  In previous years the acoustic tent had always been set up ready to go before I had even got up… I wasn’t exactly panicking yet but I had a little nervous wave in my belly… Em and Mum arrived and it was all hands to the decks as bars got set up, tombolas were arranged and ready to go, door staff were prepped, and YAY the tent man arrived… It was 11am, only 1 hour to go and we needed to get the outside PA set up, the stage moved and positioned…. oh and here was the first band to play on the main stage.  I heading back in to sound check them when my phone rang… It was Emma Hall, she had called to say she was really poorly and had lost her voice, she was so sorry but there was no way she could play that night. So, our headliner on the main stage was not coming, I shouted Em and we had a major brainstorm, made some manic phone calls and by the grace of the Rock Gods we pulled in two more bands, ‘FAITH’ and ‘TATTOOED COW’, who we can’t thank enough for helping us out at last-minute.  Amway, that was all the hiccups out-of-the-way, 12 noon arrived and the craziness began.  From the moment we opened the door we knew it was going to be busy, but I don’t think any of us expected to be refusing entry by 8pm. Yes we were at capacity before the sun set! and they were queuing to get in.  Considering we had 36 bands over 3 stages all running at separate times, everything ran extremely smoothly without problems.  The whole event was seamless, and perfect in every way for us, we hope you all felt the same and that your BRICKFEST experience was just a brilliant as ours. When Midnight arrived our doors had seen in excess of 1000 people through it, we had raised over £2500 (final total to be confirmed asap) and we had partied all day long. It was totally mad and an amazing day. The atmosphere was electric and there was a real sense of community as everyone stood side by side singing and dancing to raise money for two very worthwhile charities.  The guys from Magdalen Gates Primary had a blast and are dead chuffed with the outcome of the day. Equally as chuffed is Tash and Tyler, to whom the event meant so much.  We would like to thank you ALL from the bottom of our hearts, to those bands that gave up their time and played for free,  to all our friends and customers who came to enjoy the day and ended up pitching in behind the bar, collecting glasses, helping us to set things up, doing the door, the car park, even helping us to clean in the aftermath…. thank you so so much, you are all worth your weight in gold. We would also like to thank our awesome staff team – you all worked your butts off – WE LOVE YOU – You ROCK!!

BRICKFEST 2011 was more successful than we could have ever hoped for, the sun came out, the people came, the bands played, the place rocked! How the hell will we ever make that better? We always strive to make it better the next year but we are going to be seriously hard pushed to better this. But, ideas are hatching and we already have a list of bands waiting to play nest year…. that’s pretty awesome. BRING ON BRICKFEST 2012!

Well, back to the norm now, well for a little while anyway. Time for adverts and quiz creation and erm….more coffee! before I go though, I’ll just enlighten you about this weekend, the fun never stops at The Brickies. This Friday we have one of my personal favs…’The Cleaving Heevages’ returning for a night of risqué naughtiness, and then the Flyman and ‘The Divide’ hit the stage on Saturday with some serious VOODOO rock!  Sunday this week is QUIZ night, if you think you know your music then come and put it to the test. 100 questions involving music, videos, photos and music clips. Get yourself a team of no more than six and show us what you’re made of. You could win some cash! or you could lose big, either way – it’s a whole lot of fun and only a quid to enter… we dare you to come and have a go!!

Right folks, I have more coffee and work to do.  Thanks again for all your love and support. The Brickies wouldn’t work without ya!

Have a great week

Cxx

PS: Please feel free to comment here…. we would love to hear about your own BRICKFEST experiences, what you thought of the day,  the bands etc… tell us all about it!!

 

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Yep… You did read that right lol. It’s currently half past three in the morning, Em and I are
Sitting in the dark in the band room waiting for some paranormal activity! It all started a few months back when I returned one night from a night out. I noticed there was a
car parked next to mine with the acronym NPIG sign written on the rear windscreen. When I entered the bar, I enquired as to who it belonged to. I then subsequently found myself having a conversation with the Norfolk Paranormal Investigation Group. We chatted about their work and as the paranormal has always interested me I asked them whether they ever did investigations in pubs… John said he had in the past but most pub owners who claim their pubs to be haunted are afraid to have it disproven for fear of losing business. I guess I can understand it to a point as there are those pubs that use the word haunted to sell their name. Having nothing to lose and no fear I invited John and his team to The Brickies. Now, whilst i’m not a sceptic, I am also aware that the human mind is very cleaver and can make us imagine some very strange things. Over the last eight years we, staff, customers and even some Bands have experienced something unexplainable. When chance arose for a paranormal investigation we were more than up for it. So at midnight tonight The NPIG team arrived with emf metres, digital thermometers, barometers, thermal imaging equipment and infra red  Cameras. They set up cameras in activity hotspots and once out customers had left and the lights were out the investigation began. So, here we are in the dark. So far they have had a slamming door and have heard voices. Something tells me it’s about to get intersting!! God it’s got cold in here…

Well, its now the next day and we had quite an eventful night.  Our resident spirits (not the vodka and whiskey…) decided they were going to hide for a while and we actually thought that they were going to make us look like loonies – however around 2am things started happening. The NPIG team were made up of 5 people.  One pair went upstairs, one pair into B2 and John took vigil in the cellar. We could hear over the radio system the goings on, the team upstairs had experieced the landing light going on and off, also one of the bedroom door slammed on them. They also had an incident up here with the bathroom door, after it was closed they came back to find it open. The downstairs team heard a deep male voice on their radios, they were standing near a voice recorder at the time so hopefully they will have it recorded on file for evidence.  Whilst Em and I sat in the band room waiting, we heard the upstairs phone ring,  we both remarked who would be calling the home phone at that hour, especially as no one has the number. The phone is rarely used, we just have it as it came with the broadband.  When asking the team later if the had answered the phone they replied that the phone never rang! Very weird, both Em and I heard it plain as day!  Meanwhile, John placed a voice activated recorder down in the cellar. It was down there for 4 hours and when he went to retrieve it at the end of the investigation it had recorded for a time of just over 15minutes. Something triggered it….  Elsewhere, the pool room toilets were quite active with reports of whispers and groans, B2 infra red cameras had captured some shadows. Whilst experiences were small, there was no doubt that we had something going on. They NPIG team started wrapping things up around 5am. It will now be a patient waiting game for a couple of weeks as they analyse all the footage and recorded data for any evidence of our paranormal friends.  Whatever the outscome, it was quite a fun night, even if the hairs stood up on our arms more than once! lol  Watch this space for news of the results!!

Cx

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